Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Teach your children well

"A Family Prayer" after the painting
by George Agnew Reid (1860-1947).

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Deuteronomy 11:18-32

TO CHEW ON: "You shall teach them (these words of mine) to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." Deuteronomy 11:19

My parents must have taken this verse to heart, for early in our family life Daddy instituted something we called schluss (a German word that means "conclusion"). It was a time of family devotions when he gathered everyone around to read a story from the Egermeier Bible Story Book. Then we all got on our knees beside our chairs and prayed oldest to youngest, starting with Dad. No matter that we resisted this, as we did when we got older by claiming we hadn't heard him call, or had homework, or were too tired, or even pretending to be asleep. The family altar my parents set up laid a firm foundation for me and my siblings in the Bible and the things of God.

Here Moses suggests that teaching the things of God to our kids should intrude even more into daily life than a once-a-day time of Bible reading and prayer.

He tells parents to teach the things of God using various sense portals. They can write God's words on the walls (sight). They can bind them on their hands (touch). They can speak them (sound). Additionally this teaching can happen anywhere, everywhere: when they sit in their houses and when they go for walks, the last thing at night and the first thing in the morning.

For us to initiate that level of God-awareness and inclusion in our children implies a similar level of God-awareness and inclusion in our own lives.

In Moses' time God-awareness meant learning, meditating, memorizing and discussing God's character and essence as demonstrated in the laws God gave Moses. It also involved storytelling, reminding each other of the ways He had come through for them in signs, wonders and miracles.

We have a more complete picture of God than the Israelites did. For in addition to what the they had, we have the personal reaction to those laws in the Psalms, the heart of a loving Father grieving over His wayward kids demonstrated in the prophets, the fleshing out of God the Son in the Gospels, what it looks like for us to be subjects of the Kingdom He ushered in, in the Epistles, and our own stories.

And so I ask myself, do I acknowledge God's presence in my life to the extent of bringing Him into the decor of my home? Do thoughts of Him preoccupy me often, like first thing in the morning and as I go through my day sitting, working, walking? Does He tuck me in at night? Do I recognize the incidents of God showing Himself present and strong in the circumstances of my life? In order for me to be able to introduce Him as such an ever-present God to my kids and grandkids, I need to first practice His presence in this way myself.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to be intentional about including You in my day. Then help me to pass on my God-awareness to the next generation whenever I have the opportunity. Amen.

MORE: Family Devotions

There is a multitude of ways that families can bring God into everyday life. These are as varied and unique as families themselves.

Here are some resources that young families may find useful:

"How I Pastor My Family" by Justin Hyde on the Resurgence blog.

Josh McDowell Ministry: Family Devotional Archive

"Family Devotion Ideas" from the Every Good Path - Homeschool Family and Discipleship Ideas blog.

Bible Drive-Thru. This daily devotional blog for kids 8-12 is Bible-based and suitable for kids to read/do on their own or with parents. They take children through the Bible, with at least one devotion from each Bible book.

"5 On-The-Go Family Devotions for Summertime" by Kristin Charles on Ministry to Children.com.

"Cooking Up Family Devotions With Your Kids" by Kristin Charles on Ministry to Children.com.

Bible Drive-Thru

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